Everyone’s quest or journey for healing and wholeness is different and unique. Yet for people of faith there are some foundational truths that help us to understand and reflect on the spiritual dimension of this journey. An audio message at the end of this blog expands on this topic, where I also share stories from some people’s quest for healing and wholeness.
Experiencing Christ’s Love
What’s the core goal, the deepest expectation? After over twenty years in this incredible ministry I think the core is “simply” this: To experience the deep love of Jesus where you need it most. There is no substitute for the healing, restoration and transformation that comes from Christ’s healing presence. Many years ago a lady came to me for prayer, and her issue was a lifetime of depression. She declared that she considered herself a failure as a Christian, wife, mother and church member. I looked straight at her and said that this was not true – she was simply a precious child of the living God who has yet to experience the healing Presence of Christ where she needed it most – in the depth of her soul. The fact that non-one to date had helped her to experience this is what was truly depressing. Further, her desire for healing and help from the Lord is “success” according to Jesus – He delights in those who humbly come to Him and desire more of his healing. She had almost a stunned looked on her face and then burst out into tears, saying” No one ever said that to me!” I think she went through a third of the Kleenex box for a few minutes until we could start the transforming prayer session where Jesus in fact did reveal the roots of her depression and healed her deeply. She experienced Christ’s actual, concrete love where she needed it most.
This is one of many examples of what Paul wrote about in Ephesians 3:15-19. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and hide and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to measure of all the fullness of God“. This is Paul’s prayer for the church, for all believers. Knowing Christ’s love and transformation is major objective for the Church and also shows God wisdom to the universe (Eph. 3:10-11). For many of us, such a passage may seem somewhat “abstract”, but transforming payer is one way to make this passage more “real”, to experience this love in a deeper way. The lady I mentioned above left the prayer session with a deeper personal knowledge of that passage. Christ’s Spirit touched her inner being. She began to realize more of the abundant life (John 10:10) and experienced the peace that only comes from Christ (Col. 3:15; John 14:27).
Loving God With All Our Heart, Soul and Mind
Loving God is so basic in the Christian faith – it is the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-38). In its essence, Christianity is all about relationship. Our faith, our life in Christ, our ministry, our identity, all flow out of our personal relationship with the living God. The extent to which we love the Lord our God shapes and influences so much. Sometimes a major healing is to remove blockages in our spiritual journey so that we can receive God’s love, trust Him, and love him. The Lord God is our heavenly Father (Matt. 6:6, 8, 9, 14, etc.). How does each of us view Fatherhood? What image have you possibly created of God (Ex. 20:4)? Can you fully trust God, are you sure He will really care for you, are you fully convinced He has your best interests at heart, and so forth? If not, you can be sure that living by God’s faithfulness and His promises will be difficult. This in turn can undermine other relationships and service for his kingdom. Transforming prayer seeks to uncover the blockages, hindrances, or wounds that prevent us from realizing this Great Commandment. Many times, I have seen how the Lord brings healing to a person inviting God as Father more fully into their life.
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Years ago, I asked the Lord to give me an idea of the depth of pain in my community. That afternoon I had to walk downtown when suddenly a lady who passed me on the sidewalk. Her head was down, walking so hardly anyone would notice. But I did notice tears in her face – she was obviously in some sort of anguish and sadness. Later that day as I reflected on this I think I heard the Lord say “There are many like this in this city”. I have never forgotten that brief encounter.
Flowing from the Great Commandment is the Second Great Commandment — to love your neighbor as yourself. If we truly love God, then we will love and care for those around us. This certainly includes our brothers and sisters in our church fellowship. Jesus said: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another (John 13:34-35). There are more than likely many in our churches suffering from mental illness, serious marital or family dysfunction, addictions, deep wounds in their spirits, painful memories or unresolved trauma from the past and much more. Our ability to identify with and take seriously the pain and woundedness of others is one indicator of our lover for others, our neighbors. The greatest virtue and value is love (1 Cor. 13:13). Simply put, loving those around us means that we will care about their well-being, wholeness and health. We would be motivated to assist in, pray for, and help in their healing as the Lord calls and equips us. But this all implies that we love ourselves as well. If we are not reconciled to ourselves or even reject or hate ourselves, then it is very difficult to love others as Christ loves us. We need Christ’s love and his unconditional acceptance of us – which develops our wholeness – to love ourselves properly and thus reach out to others.
Transforming Prayer as Part of the Great Commission
Christ commissioned the Church to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20), which is done by baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything He commanded them. What did Jesus command His first disciples? Many things, but that certainly included healing and deliverance (Luke 9:1-6; 10:8), patterned after His own example. Thus, Matthew 28:18-20 is also the Great Commission for transforming prayer! Jesus expects His Church in all ages and eras to be actively engaged in this ministry alongside preaching, teaching, and the proclamation of His gospel (see also Mark 16:17-19). For a development of this key theological foundation for the ministry of transforming and healing prayer, see Chapter 3, Re-Thinking the Great Commission, pages 55-76, in The Great Omission: Resolving Critical Issues for the Ministry of Healing and Deliverance. Healed, transformed, changed lives becomes a powerful witness to the gospel. Testimonies point to a real, active, loving Father God. Transforming prayer is thus part of the Christian life under the reign of God. Every transforming prayer session is helping to fulfill the Great Commission.
Our Sanctification and Becoming Like Jesus
Our emotions, our behavior, our whole life must increasingly resemble that of Jesus. The goal is to have Christ formed in us. ” … we are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18).” Becoming like Christ comes from our union and communion with Christ, from knowing and experiencing more deeply he who is in us. Transforming prayer is thus part of spiritual formation. But the reality is that we may have anger, hatred, addictions, bitterness, unforgiveness, and more, in our hearts and souls. There may well be too much “toxic waste” in our souls. But we cannot do this on our own strength; this is a divine goal that can only be realized with divine resources. This is a serious call to a holy life, to renounce evil ways and live according to the ways of Christ’s new Kingdom. Transforming prayer is then a means to our inner transformation, to putting on the new self, which is being renewed (Col. 3:10; Gal. 2:20). Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind (1 Pet. 2:1). Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (Eph. 4:31). Christians are bought with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:19) and are called to be holy (1 Pet. 15). As we are transformed, we are better able to ” … live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith … (Col. 2:6-7″.
Equipping the Saints for Battle
We are all soldiers of the cross and are to be equipped and strong in the Lord for His purposes and call on our lives. Finally, be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Eph. 6:10-11. Our transformation and healing is for a purpose! But the enemy of our souls seeks to keep us defeated, wounded, discouraged, in bondage, brokenhearted, imprisoned to lies, and thus immobilized or paralyzed and no threat to him and his devious purposes. It is difficult to be an effective soldier of the cross if we are in bondage, assaulted by shame, deeply wounded, in the grip of a sexual addiction, and so forth. All such things create holes in our armor, which the enemy exploits mercilessly. The Lord expects us to ‘stand’ (Eph. 6:13, 14). This points to a long-term vision and context for the healing ministry. We minister to others most effectively out of our wholeness. The Scriptures do not expect us to wait until we are ‘perfect’ to minister to others. What general would go to battle, not being sure of the health and battle-readiness of his soldiers? Yet, the church seems too often to do just that, regarding the battle for those who are perishing.
An Invitation to An Audio Message
I invite you to listen to my audio message on this important topic, where I expand on this blog and develop some points further. I also share some real-life examples of transforming prayer resulting in lasting change in people’s lives.